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Friday, October 7, 2011
Final Word: NFC East

By Dan Graziano

» NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 5:

Eli Manning
Eli Manning has thrown just two interceptions through four games this season.
Eli on the money: New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has played two straight games without throwing an interception. Not coincidentally, the Giants, who host Seattle on Sunday, have won both of those games. The last time Manning played three straight games without an interception was Weeks 2-5 of the 2008 season, and the Giants won all three of those games too. (They had a bye in Week 4 that year.) During Manning's career as a starter, the Giants are 32-8 in games in which he does not throw an interception and 35-39 in games in which he throws at least one. That includes postseason.

Eagles a fourth-quarter mess: The Philadelphia Eagles have held fourth-quarter leads in each of their past three games and lost all three, but that doesn't tell the whole story of how complete these collapses are. Philadelphia, which plays at Buffalo on Sunday, has been outscored 36-0 in the fourth quarter over the past three weeks. They've been outgained 335 yards to 282. They've converted 2 of 8 third downs and allowed opponents to convert 9-of-14. They've committed three turnovers and forced none. According to ESPN Stats & Information, during their three-game losing streak, the Eagles' nine fourth-quarter possessions have resulted in three turnovers, two missed field goals, two turnovers on downs, one punt and the end of the game. That, folks, is not getting it done.

If I had a nickel: Bills running back Fred Jackson is fourth in the league in rushing yards. He also has the most rushing attempts in the league in situations where defenses employ at least five defensive backs. The Eagles are by far the worst defense in the league against the run when using five or more defensive backs. They allow 11.9 yards per rush when they have at least five defensive backs on the field, 3.3 yards more than the second-worst team in the league, and a first-down conversion percentage of 42.9. It's possible they might want to change at least part of what they do against the run if they don't want Jackson to shred them too badly.

Pierre-Paul's impact: Osi Umenyiora missed the first three games of the year while recovering from knee surgery and Justin Tuck has missed two games with a neck injury. Yet the Giants' defense has still managed 12 sacks so far and ranks fifth in the league in that category. The Giants are on pace to surpass last year's team sack total of 46, and the main reason appears to be the emergence and consistency of second-year defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, the team's first-round pick from the 2010 draft. If the Giants can ever get Tuck, Umenyiora and Pierre-Paul on the field at the same time, they could be downright terrifying.

Seahawks' improving pass game: Seattle was last in the league in passing offense through two weeks, but once receiver Sidney Rice returned from his injury in Week 3, things changed. Rice has the second-best yards-per-catch average in the league over the past two weeks at 17.1, and the Seattle passing attack has ranked 22nd (a big jump from 32nd) over the past two weeks. Seattle's surely not the most dangerous offense the Giants have faced or will face this season, but someone in the secondary is going to have to account for Rice, who has the size and speed to make big plays against anyone.